Sandwich

An Unfussy, Unabashedly Simple Eggplant Sandwich to Make

August 16, 2016

Earlier this week a friend snapped a photo of a recipe and texted it to me with an order: Make this immediately.

The recipe came from Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year and called for roasting thinly sliced eggplant dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The roasted eggplant would then be layered onto a buttered baguette with a handful of arugula. That was it. It sounded too good to be true. Dare I make it? I’d read the sandwich police were out.

I took the risk, and I’m so glad I did, because I need unfussy eggplant recipes in my repertoire and this one is just that, proving that eggplant isn’t as demanding as I think. It slices beautifully with a knife into uniform-enough pieces—no need to break out the mandoline here. It need not be salted. And, as it turns out, when brushed with a simple dressing and roasted, it tastes sweet, each slice as irresistible as the next without a trace of bitterness.

Eggplant pre- and post-roast. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Like many other near three-ingredient assemblies, the charm of this one is its simplicity, its success relying on a synergy of flavors and textures: the bitter, undressed arugula against the earthy, yielding eggplant, a smear of sweet butter offering a touch of richness. The absence of any fancy sauce (a flavored aioli, an herby pesto) or condiment (a spicy pickle, a textured relish), moreover, allows the eggplant to shine.

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Top Comment:
“Our favorite recipe is very similar to this one, the only real difference is we would dress the thin roasted slices with traditional homemade red wine vinegar (made from our homemade wine harvests), olive oil sea salt and a bit of hot chili flake, then add the fresh arugula to the sandwich :). I too am from upstate NY (Schenectady/Albany area) but now live on the SW Florida coast with my famiglia ❤️”
— cucina D.
Comment

Ruth says it best: “Eggplant is usually the chameleon of the vegetable kingdom, so accommodating that if often disappears. Here it finally has a chance to star.”

Alexandra Stafford is a writer, photographer, and occasional stationery designer based in upstate New York, where she is writing a cookbook. You can read more of her work on her blog.

What's your unfussiest technique for eggplant? Tell us in the comments.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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10 Comments

Jocelyn G. August 21, 2016
You're psychic. We picked up eggplant and arugula at yesterday's CSA :).
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 21, 2016
Yay! That's what I love about having a CSA ... it makes recipes (or the ingredients matched together in recipes) make more sense. Hope you like this one! I'm making it for friends tonight.
 
Jocelyn G. August 21, 2016
Found one ciabatta in the freezer, so it's going to be lunch for my husband. I'll go breadless :)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 21, 2016
haha, perfect. The first time I made these I ate the whole sheet pan of eggplant alone...I don't think you'll miss the bread :)
 
lisambb August 18, 2016
I haven't made this yet but everything else I've tried from Ruth's book has been simple and incredibly delicious. I'll get to this over the weekend. Thanks for the reminder!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 18, 2016
I'm getting to her chocolate cake recipe this weekend...can't wait!
 
cucina D. August 16, 2016
thanks for this wonderful article Alexandra! My famiglia is from Italy amd we would cultivate italian eggplants (both white and purple) every summer. Our favorite recipe is very similar to this one, the only real difference is we would dress the thin roasted slices with traditional homemade red wine vinegar (made from our homemade wine harvests), olive oil sea salt and a bit of hot chili flake, then add the fresh arugula to the sandwich :).<br />I too am from upstate NY (Schenectady/Albany area) but now live on the SW Florida coast with my famiglia ❤️
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 16, 2016
Oh wow, that sounds so good! I'm going to try that next time — love the idea of a little heat, and I can only imagine how good homemade vinegar would be here. So fun to hear about the Schenectady connection! I have befriended an Italian nonna, the mother of a friend, who has taught me so many things — I am in awe of all that she does from her backyard gardening to her wine and vinegar making to her canning and meat curing. So many of her neighbors do the same thing, too. I'm hoping they'll adopt me :)
 
cucina D. August 18, 2016
That's wonderful Alexandra! I would love to share some of our famiglia's favorite foods with you someday. You are more than welcome to visit our casa here in Fort Myers, Florida. I think your adopted Nonna would take you in any day as I know from myself, we live to share food, wine and lively conversation on a daily basis :)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 18, 2016
You are too sweet, thank you! I would love that. This nonna is very welcoming, and I am so grateful — wish I could eat pastries and drink coffee with her every morning :) :) :)